New data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing show graduates of entry-level baccalaureate and masters nursing programs are much more likely to have job offers at the time of graduation or soon after than are graduates in other fields.
In August, the AACN conducted an online survey of nursing schools offering entry-level baccalaureate and graduate programs in the U.S. to better assess the experience of new graduates seeking employment. The survey found that the average job offer rate at the time of graduation was 59% for new nurses based on data collected from 413 schools.
By comparison, the National Association of Colleges and Employers conducted a national survey of 38,000 new college graduates across disciplines and found that only 29.3% of new graduates in 2012 had a job offer at graduation.
At four to six months after graduation, the AACN survey found that 89% of new BSN graduates had secured employment in nursing.
Despite concerns about new college graduates finding employment in todays tight job market, graduates of baccalaureate nursing programs are finding positions at a significantly higher rate than the national average, AACN President Jane Kirschling, RN, PhD, FAAN, said in a news release. As more practice settings move to require higher levels of education for their registered nurses, we expect the demand for BSN-prepared nurses to remain strong as nurse employers seek to raise quality standards and meet consumer expectations for safe patient care.
The percentage of BSN graduates with job offers at graduation varied by region: 68% in the South, 59% in the Midwest, 50% in the Northeast and 47% in the West.
Likewise, the job offer rate for new nurses at four to six months after graduation also varied by region: 93% in the South, 90% in the Midwest and 82% in the Northeast and in the West.
The AACN survey also looked at new RNs graduating from entry-level masters programs and found that these nurses were even more likely to secure a position soon after graduation. The latest data show that 67% of these graduates had jobs at graduation and 90% had jobs four to six months after completing their studies.
The AACN asked nursing schools to identify whether employers in their region either required or indicated a preference for hiring new nurses with a bachelors degree in nursing.
Based on completed responses from 515 schools of nursing, 43.7% of hospitals and other healthcare settings require new hires to have a bachelors degree in nursing up 4.6 percentage points since 2012 while 78.6% of employers express a strong preference for BSN program graduates.
A significant body of research shows that nurses with baccalaureate-level preparation are linked to better patient outcomes, including lower mortality and failure-to-rescue rates, according to the AACN news release. With the Institute of Medicine calling for 80% of the nursing workforce to hold at least a bachelors degree by 2020, moving to prepare nurses at this level has become a national priority.
Clearly, healthcare settings nationwide are seeing a difference in nursing practice based on the level of education and are making hiring decisions to enhance the quality of care available to patients, Kirschling said. With a significant number of nurses nearing retirement, we fully expect to see the demand for baccalaureate-prepared nurses continue to rise into the foreseeable future.
2013 AACN Research Brief on Employment of New Nurse Graduates and Employer Preferences for Baccalaureate-Prepared Nurses: www.aacn.nche.edu/leading_initiatives_news/news/2013/employment13.
AACN fact sheet on the Impact of Education on Nursing Practice: www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/impact-of-education.
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